Brian Bushweller, State Senator

17th District of Delaware

February, 2017

 

Budgetary clouds, but … a bright spot, too

I have written many times in recent years about budget problems facing Delaware.  A combination of sluggish economic growth along with rapidly escalating costs of healthcare and education have combined to create tight budgets every year since the “great recession” of 2008 and 2009.  And, every year we have cut here, trimmed there, eliminated programs and shifted dollars to try to deal with the problem.  We have raised some taxes, too, and substantially reduced the number of state employees.

Still, budgets have gotten tighter and tighter.  To quote our newly elected Governor, John Carney from his Inaugural Address on January 17, “We are at the end of the road on this one.  There’s nowhere else to kick the can.”

As of this writing, estimates are that state income – revenue – will fall short of expenses by as much as $350 million in the fiscal year that starts July 1.  That’s a lot of money for anyone but for a small state like Delaware, it’s a huge sum.  Proposals to address this shortfall are starting to come out.  One such proposal, contained in the proposed budget of outgoing Governor Jack Markell calls for a substantial cut in the Grant-In-Aid (GIA) budget.  That’s the budget that funds things like the fire service, paramedics and senior centers.  In fact, for senior centers, GIA is the primary source of state funding.  Members of Modern Maturity Center will feel the changes if those cuts go through.

Another proposal being discussed is the idea of shifting costs of state programs to school districts and local governments.  That strategy might help ease the state budget problems but it will really just push those problems to the local level, forcing school, county and city tax increases.

Concerned citizens should pay attention to this issue.

Young people on MLK Day.

On a much brighter note, and one that creates hope for a better future, I could not help but be super impressed by the many young people and youth groups I saw perform at celebrations of Martin Luther King Day right here in central Kent County.  At Dover’s huge MLK Day Breakfast, the Dover High Gospel Choir wowed the audience with a performance that was as technically exacting as it was emotionally exciting.  The Choir bolstered my faith in young people.

It was pretty much the same at the lunchtime celebration at Delaware State University.  The Del State Choir demonstrated just how good a collegiate choir can be.  Instead of singing from the stage, they sang from among the audience, lined up in each of the two main aisles of the auditorium.  Another magnificent performance!